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I can not find my original will and my lawyer has retired. I do have a copy of this will. Would that be good enough if I died.

Portchester, NY |

Would NYS Probate Court accept a copy instead of the original?

Attorney Answers 6


You really don't want to leave your heirs in the position of having to worry about whether a Surrogate's Court will admit a copy of the Will to probate. Your prior attorney may have filed the original will with the Surrogate's Court in White Plains (assuming that you reside in Westchester County). Check with the Court and see.

Please also consider taking your copy of the Will to a new attorney -- I can refer you to some excellent ones here in the White Plains area. The attorney can explain what related documents that you should have prepared such as a health care proxy and power of attorney etc that will be very important to have in the event that you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions on your own.

There are also Medicare considerations that need to be properly explained to you. Depending upon the nature and extent of your assets, you may require a number of steps to be taken to minimize the tax burden on your heirs. A good trusts and estates attorney who also has experience in elder law issues can guide you through these very complicated issues.

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Copies of wills are always a problem. If you can't locate the original, then take your copy to a new lawyer and have them do another one with the same provisions. It probably needs to be updated anyway.

Hope this helps. If you think this post was helpful, please check the answer was a good answer tab below. Thanks. Mr. Geffen is licensed to practice law throughout the state of Texas with an office in Dallas. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States and is licensed to practice in US Tax Court as well as The Court of Claims. This answer is provided as a public service and as a general response to a general question, it is not meant, and should not be relied upon as specific legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

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You should go to a new attorney and get a will executed right away. You can have your new attorney keep the new will in a will vault or you can have the document filed with the Surrogate's Court.

This answer is made for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney that practices in the subject practice discipline and with whom you have an attorney client relationship along with all the privileges that relationship provides. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party, any partnership, investment plan, arrangement, legal structure or other transaction addressed herein.

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That will not be good enough when you die. You need the original Will for probate purposes. As the previous poster indicated, hire a new attorney, prepare a new Will revoking all prior Wills and have that attorney hold the original in a safe. Alternatively, you could keep the original in a safety deposit bank or a safe of your own.

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While a copy of a will is probatable in most circumstances, the legal fees of a cost of a proceeding to admit a copy to probate far outweighs the cost of having a new will prepared. I agree with the prior posts, have the will redone and stored in the attorney's fire proof vault.

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I agree with the advice to re-do your will. It's easy enough and you'll insure that your heirs won't have that issue to deal with.

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